Archive | November 1st, 2013

Mask of Zion Report “The rage and lunacy of I$raHell and Saudi Arabia”

Mask of Zion Report Oct 31, 2013

by crescentandcross



Palestine, Syria, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech and “The rage and lunacy of Israel and Saudi Arabia”. Hell of a program from the one and only Jonathan Azaziah.


Download Here


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I$raHell gets building while negotiations go nowhere

John Kerry bows to man in skullcap

By Jonathan Cook

Whatever happened to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? You could be forgiven for thinking everyone packed up shop a while ago and forgot to inform you. There’s been barely a peep about it since the revival of talks was greeted with great fanfare back in July.

The negotiations, which have been conducted in a fug of secrecy, flitted briefly back on to the radar last week when US Secretary of State John Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for what the media called an “unusually long”, seven-hour meeting in Rome.

Much of the conversation was held in private, with not even officials present, but, according to reports, discussions concentrated on the revived peace process. Kerry, concerned about the lack of tangible progress, is believed to have tried to pin Netanyahu down on his vision of where the nine-month negotiations should lead.

“No positive indications of progress”

Kerry’s intervention follows weeks of mounting Palestinian frustration, culminating in rumours that the talks are on the verge of collapse. After a meeting with Kerry in Paris, an Arab League official, Nasif Hata, added to the desultory atmosphere, saying there were “no positive indications of progress”.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, on a tour of European capitals last week in search of diplomatic support, tried to scotch suggestions that the talks were at a “dead end”. They were “difficult”, he admitted, and after nearly three months of meetings the two sides were still “at the beginning of the road”.

But privately his officials have expressed exasperation at Israel’s inflexibility and the miserliness of its opening positions. Earlier this month the Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel had refused to discuss the key issue of borders, instead focusing exclusively on its own security concerns.

…the lack of scrutiny has allowed Israel to drag its feet and browbeat the weaker, Palestinian side. Israel’s lead negotiator, Tzipi Livni, has already warned that the talks’ timetable is likely to overrun.

None of this is surprising. At Israel’s insistence, the talks have been entirely shielded from public view. Privacy, Israel argued, would ease the pressure on the two parties and give them greater room to be forthcoming and creative.

The reality, however, is that the lack of scrutiny has allowed Israel to drag its feet and browbeat the weaker, Palestinian side. Israel’s lead negotiator, Tzipi Livni, has already warned that the talks’ timetable is likely to overrun.

Similarly, US envoy Martin Indyk was supposed to be Kerry’s eyes and ears in the talks. Instead he spent the first two months locked out of the proceedings, apparently again at Israel’s instigation.

Secrecy, Israel hopes, will give it the cover it expects to need when – as seems certain – the talks end inconclusively, or the Palestinians storm out. Widespread ignorance about developments can be exploited to cast the Palestinians as the treacherous party, as occurred following the collapse of the Camp David talks in 2000.

But belatedly we are seeing a little of the leadership role Washington promised.

Indyk is said to be now actively involved. The rate of meetings between the negotiators has been stepped up sharply in the past fortnight. And last week’s meeting in Rome suggested that the US hopes to pressure Netanyahu either into making a big concession or into beginning the face-to-face talks with Abbas that this process is supposed eventually to lead to.

According to Hata, of the Arab League, the US has also promised that it will “take action” if there is no breakthrough by January, presenting “viable suggestions for ways to end the thaw”.

Uncompromising talk and a discredited process

But whatever Netanyahu has told Kerry in private, few believe the Israeli prime minister is really ready to seek peace. Earlier this month he set out in public his vision for the talks, in a follow-up to his famous speech in 2009, when, faced with a newly installed US president, Barack Obama, he agreed to a two-state solution.

This time, speaking from the same podium, he sounded in no mood for conciliation. “Unless the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and give up on the right of return there will not be peace,” he said. He denied the “occupation and settlements” were causes of the conflict, and insisted on Israel’s need for “extremely strong security arrangements”.

It is this kind of uncompromising talk that has discredited the negotiations with everyone outside the White House.

…Netanyahu has exploited widespread Israeli opposition to the next round of Palestinian prisoner releases this week – the carrot to keep the Palestinians at the negotiating table – to justify plans for an orgy of settlement building.

Last week Yuval Diskin, a recent head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, warned that there was no realistic prospect that “the Israeli public will accept a peace agreement”. Israelis’ distrust of the negotiations is fuelled by the constant opposition of government ministers.

In a further show of dissension, they have backed a bill that would require a two-thirds parliamentary majority before Israel can even broach at the talks the key issue of dividing Jerusalem. If passed, the legislation would turn the negotiations into a dead letter.

On the other side, Hamas has grown emboldened. Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in Gaza, has called on Palestinians to renew a “popular uprising”, just as a 1.5km-long underground tunnel Hamas had built into Israel was exposed.

In the West Bank, a spate of attacks and killings of Israelis over the past few weeks – after a year without the loss of a single Israeli life from the conflict in 2012 – has provoked much speculation in Israel about whether a Palestinian uprising is imminent. A Palestinian driving a bulldozer who recently rampaged through a military base near Jerusalem only reinforced the impression.

Five thousand squatter homes for 25 prisoners

Conveniently, Netanyahu has exploited widespread Israeli opposition to the next round of Palestinian prisoner releases this week – the carrot to keep the Palestinians at the negotiating table – to justify plans for an orgy of settlement building.

This time the government has committed to building 5,000 settler homes in return for the release of 25 prisoners jailed before the Oslo accords were signed two decades ago.

All indications are that these talks, like their predecessors, are doomed to fail. The question is whether the Palestinians have the nerve to unmask the charade. If not, Israel will use the peace process as cover while its settlements devour yet more of the Palestinian state-in-waiting.


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The Opportunist Actor


By Sajjad Shaukat

Although opportunism is very common in international and domestic politics, yet no

patriotic individual applies it against his own native country. In this regard, Pakistan’s former

Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani has broken all the records by rapidly

changing loyalties, while serving the foreign interests at the cost of Pakistan.

As an ambitious student leader, Hussain Haqqani joined Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and acquired

prominence by becoming President of Student Union in Karachi University. But due to

his agreement with the CIA, he did not join his colleagues in the protest against the US

consulate. Later, he joined Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League (N). He became media

advisor to Nawaz Sharif by shifting his basic loyalties from JI to PML (N).

He launched an unethical and dirty media campaign against the top leadership of the Pakistan

Peoples Party (PPP), targeting the late Nusrat Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. In fact, his cunning

mind was at play for the sake of political fame and advancement of his personal interests. Nawaz

Sharif who felt the guilt and shame wanted to get rid of him, and found a place for him in Sri

Lanka by appointing him as High Commissioner.

Then, he offered his services to the former President General Pervez Musharraf and desired to

be appointed as an advisor for information, but could not convince the General of his loyalties

and failed to chip in Musharraf’s internal set up. Frustrated Hussain Haqqani left for USA and

started a media campaign against Musharraf regime, especially against Pak Army and the Inter-
Services Intelligence agency (ISI). Since then, he is continuing with his efforts to defame these

institutions using skewed thoughts and biased judgment.

However, when he shifted his loyalties to PPP, public in Pakistan was reminded of his media

campaign against PPP’s top leadership—using insulting approach and abusive contents.

Cunningly, he pleaded his case in such a witty manner that PPP leadership appointed him as an

Ambassador of Pakistan to the US. Unfortunately, he was caught with his sinister designs during

his efforts to malign Pak Army and ISI in the Memogate Scandal.

On June 12, 2012, reality behind Memogate Case was proved, as the memo judicial

commission’s report submitted in the Supreme Court, found out the truth about seeking

American intervention to pre-empt a military coup after the May 2-kill Osama raid. The report

established that the memorandum was authentic and Pakistan’s former Ambassador to United

States, Hussain Haqqani was its originator and architect. It elaborated, “Mr Haqqani by offering

his services as part of a proposed national security team to a foreign government—thus seeking

to bring Pakistan’s nuclear assets under a more verifiable, transparent regime”, stating that ISI

maintains “relations with the Taliban”, and offering to “eliminate Section S of the ISI and to help

pigeonhole the forces lined up against your interests”, and “were acts of disloyalty to Pakistan.”

The report further said, “Mr Haqqani sought American help, making himself indispensable to the

Americans—he lost sight of the fact that he is a Pakistani citizen, and therefore his loyalty could

Pakistani-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, whose claims stirred the Memogate

controversy, pointed out that the Supreme Court’s unveiling of the judicial commission’s report,

had brought forth the “truth he had been speaking from the day the case started.”

Hussain Haqqani who had resigned from his post to face the investigations about the allegations

made by Mansoor Ijaz, also attended the hearings of the Court, and joined the concerned judicial

commission, but he was allowed to leave the country after an assurance that he would appear

before the court whenever ordered to do so. After going to America, Hussain Haqqani had been

using various pretexts, not to face the judicial commission’s inquiry. On January 4, 2012, he

sent an application before the commission including a medical certificate, requesting to adjourn

hearing. Haqqani also requested the commission to record his statement via video link from

London. Besides, he also pretended that his mobile phone set was missing.

Nevertheless, memo judicial commission’s report proved that Hussain Haqqani had prioritised

US interests over those of Pakistan by subverting the constitution of Pakistan. It has endorsed

the standpoint of the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the then ISI Chief Lt.

Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha about the reality behind the Memogate Case.

In this respect, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan, and leaders of other

political parties including those of civil societies also appreciated the report of the Memogate

PML (N) MNA Khawaja Muhammad Asif remarked that Haqqani should be tried on charges of

treason and be made a lesson for others in the future. He disclosed that Hussain Haqqani “was on

the payroll of the US…was being paid $2 billion for carrying out these gross activities against

While serving as Pakistani Ambassador in the US, Haqqani had issued visas to many CIA

agents like Raymond Davis to destabilise Pakistan. Besides, working at various American

institutes, Hussain Haqqani developed secret liaisons with Indo-Israeli lobbies and became

covert element of anti-Pakistan move. Particularly, this could be judged from his book, titled,

“Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.” In this book, Hussain Haqqani has targeted both

military and Islamic ideology. While pointing out relationship of the Pak Army and ISI with the

Islamic militants, Haqqani allegedly wrote, “since September 11, 2001, the selective cooperation

of Pakistan’s military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf—sharing intelligence with the United

States and apprehending Al Qaeda members—have led to the assumption that Pakistan might

be ready to give up its long-standing ties with radical Islam.” In the book, He advised America,

“Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support for Islamic militants.”

American famous writers and authors exaggeratedly praised the book of Hussain Haqqani as it

was in accordance with the hidden agenda and blame game of the US high officials and media

against Pakistan and its security agencies.

Especially, Stephen P. Cohen, author of the book, “The Idea of Pakistan and The Pakistan

Army” allegedly wrote, “We are in Hussain Haqqani’s debt for providing the authoritative

account of the linkages between Pakistan’s powerful Islamists and its professional army.”

Without any doubt, all this indicates that he is an agent of American CIA.

Notably, Hussain Haqqani was even disloyal to his family. Initially, he got married in his

relatives, but broke the marriage with a view to advancing his career. Afterwards, he got married

with the sister of Naheed Khan—PPP activist, hoping that Naheed Khan will help in promoting

his political ambitions. Motivated with his self-political desires, he left his children in Pakistan

and contracted yet another marriage with Farahnaz Ispahaniin in USA.

As a friend, Haqqani is well-known for his deceitful conduct and unreliable behavior. He

overestimates his abilities, maintains wicked mind-set and considers himself a rising star who

In fact, having inconsistent religious beliefs and duplicity, Hussain Haqqan is very ambitious

who can go to any extent in obtaining his sinister aims, and is not ashamed of bringing disgrace

Nonetheless, perceptions play significant role in building or tarnishing the image of a country,

and its top institutions. Simply speaking, if a man is not sincere to his own country, family,

friends, political party and belief system, how can he be trusted to become the spokesperson of

Pakistan in foreign land. In these terms, shady areas of Hussain Haqqani’s conduct, insincerity,

elusive nature and malicious propaganda against his own country, Pak Army and ISI show that,

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Neocons Push I$raHelli-Saudi Alliance


Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Naziyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry. (File)American neocons are rallying to the new Israeli-Saudi alliance by demanding that President Barack Obama engage more aggressively against the two countries’ foes in the Middle East, thus “bolstering Israeli and Saudi confidence,” as the Washington Post’s deputy editorial-page editor Jackson Diehl declared.

For years, the Washington Post has served as Official Washington’s neocon flagship, bristling in support of every hawkish demand for U.S. intervention in the Mideast, most notably assembling a flotilla of misguided consensus in support of President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and then pounding any American skeptics who dared emerge over the horizon.

Diehl’s column on Monday represented an extension of the neocons’ knee-jerk support of Israeli interests to those of the Saudi monarchy, Israel’s new secret friend. Diehl hoisted the banner of this odd-couple alliance in excoriating President Obama for letting down these two “allies” as they maneuver to crush what’s known as the Shiite crescent extending from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

In sync with the regional interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel, Diehl argued that the United States should toughen up its military posture in the Middle East with the goal of “reshaping conditions on the ground,” specifically going after Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and damaging the new Iranian government of President Hassan Rouhani, or in Diehl’s words, “weakening Assad [and] degrading Iranian strength.”

Diehl added, “That work could be done without deploying U.S. troops, but it would be hard, expensive and require a lot of presidential attention.” Presumably, Diehl wants the U.S. military to launch those cruise missiles that were poised to “degrade” Assad’s regime in late August, and he hopes the U.S. diplomatic corps will rebuff Iran’s overtures for a diplomatic settlement over its nuclear program.

Like other neocons, Diehl takes Obama to task for giving peace a chance – by accepting Assad’s surrender of Syria’s chemical weapons, by seeking a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war (with Assad agreeing to send representatives to Geneva although the fractious Saudi-backed Syrian rebels and their jihadist allies still balk), by working with Iran on a deal that would swap tighter international controls over Iran’s nuclear program for sanctions relief, and by pressing for meaningful talks between Israel and Palestine toward a two-state solution.

Diehl deems this diplomatic offensive a series of “foreign policy fantasies,” the title of his Washington Post op-ed. By pushing diplomacy over confrontation, Obama has, in Diehl’s view, “driven a wedge between the United States and some of its closest allies [leaving] U.S. allies in the region – Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey – marooned in a scary new world where their vital interests are no longer under U.S. protection.

“Israel and Saudi Arabia worry that Obama will strike a deal with Iran that frees it from sanctions without entirely extirpating its capacity to enrich uranium — leaving it with the potential to produce nuclear weapons. But more fundamentally, they and their neighbors are dismayed that the United States appears to have opted out of the regional power struggle between Iran and its proxies and Israel and the Arab states aligned with the United States.

“It is the prospect of waging this regional version of the Cold War without significant U.S. support that has prompted Saudi leaders to hint at a rupture with Washington — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk more publicly than ever about Israel’s willingness to act alone.”

Fighting for Others

Diehl — like virtually all his compatriots in the mainstream U.S. news media — leaves out the detail that Israeli already possesses one of the most sophisticated though undeclared nuclear arsenals in the world, while U.S. intelligence agencies still conclude that Iran is not working on even a single nuclear bomb.

Diehl also doesn’t bother to explain exactly why the American people should continue to expend vast amounts of money, prestige and blood to take sides in these interminable and often incomprehensible conflicts in the Middle East. The neocons simply behave as if every American should understand why a Shiite-dominated regime is so much more objectionable than a Sunni one; why an absolute monarchy like Saudi Arabia is preferable to a limited democracy like Iran; and why Israel has some fundamental right to possess East Jerusalem and other Palestinian lands.

For many Americans, it’s perhaps even harder to understand why the likes of Jackson Diehl and his boss, editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt, continue to reign over the Washington Post’s editorial section more than a decade after they helped guide the American people into the disastrous war in Iraq.

Not only has there been no accountability for their journalistic errors, including reporting Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of WMDs as “flat fact” when it was no fact at all, but also none for the ugly character assassination against war critics, such as former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson whose wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame, saw her career destroyed when the Bush administration exposed her identity on the Post’s op-ed pages and Hiatt then kept up a years-long campaign to destroy Wilson’s reputation. [See’s Why WPost’s Hiatt Should Be Fired.”]

Beyond no accountability at the Post, there appear to have been no lessons learned. Hiatt, Diehl and the other neocons simply continue to place the policy desires of Israel, in particular, and now its new buddy, Saudi Arabia, above the foreign policy of the U.S. government and above the interests of the American people.

In the early years of the Republic, Presidents George Washington and John Adams warned against the dangers of “entangling alliances” that could draw the United States into faraway and expensive conflicts that would drain the Treasury and create unnecessary enemies. In his Farewell Address, Washington saw the risk of foreign influence coming not only from adversaries but from allies who would seek to twist American domestic opinion in their favor.

Washington warned: “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”

Those early warnings seem particularly prescient today regarding the Middle East, given the extensive and expensive efforts by Israel and Saudi Arabia to win favor in Official Washington through lobbying, propaganda and financial favors doled out to many influential Americans.

While Israel’s skills at lobbying and propaganda are renowned, Saudi Arabia also can throw its weight around through its ownership of American debt, its ability to manipulate oil prices and its stakes in major U.S. corporations, including in the powerful Wall Street financial sector.

Now that these two longtime rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have formed a behind-the-scenes alliance – joining together on key regional issues such as countering Iranian influence, subverting the Assad regime in Syria, and backing the military coup in Egypt – the Obama administration finds itself confronting an imposing phalanx of political and economic clout.

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Humanitarian Crisis in Syria Spirals With Confirmed Cases of Polio


Paralyzed children collateral damage of ongoing conflict

– Andrea Germanos

In another sign of the massive humanitarian crisis spiraling in Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Tuesday 10 cases of polio—the first outbreak of the disease in the country in 14 years—and warned that the risk of the disease spreading was high.

Syrian children at a refugee camp. (Photo: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam/cc/flickr)The world health body stated that most of the cases of the highly contagious, crippling and potentially deadly disease were in children under 2 who were either not immunized or were under-immunized.

Another 12 cases of paralysis the WHO documented in the country’s eastern province of Deir Al Zour are still being investigated to confirm if they were caused by polio as well.

Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman of the WHO polio eradication program, told Reuters that “immunizations have started in that area.”

The WHO estimates that the immunization rate in the country was just 68% in 2012, a drop from 91% just two years earlier.

“Of course this is a communicable disease, with population movements it can travel to other areas. So the risk is high for (its) spread across the region,” Rosenbauer told a news conference.

Over two million Syrians have been forced to become refugees, fleeing to neighboring countries including Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, and the UN fears that number could reach as high as five million by 2015. There are also currently 5 million internally displaced Syrians—refugees in their own country.

Ahead of the confirmation of the polio cases by the WHO, UNICEF announced plans for a large-scale immunization effort to target the 500,000 children in Syria that the last two years of fighting and insecurity have left vulnerable to polio and other preventable diseases.

Last week, UNICEF stated, “The conflict in Syria has caused immense displacement, with millions of children on the move, either inside the country or across borders into neighboring countries and beyond. As a result, routine immunization systems so critical to preventing childhood diseases have been disrupted or broken down, and children are now at far higher risk of diseases such as polio and measles.”

Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of the international children’s charity Save the Children, said the cases of polio were “another sign of the desperate and spiraling humanitarian situation” in Syria and demand “vaccination ceasefires.” She added, “If chemical weapons inspectors can be allowed access across Syria with notebooks, surely aid workers can be allowed in with vaccines.”

“Anytime you have half a million or more children who have not been reached with lifesaving vaccinations,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake told the Associated Press, “then it is very urgent that you be able to get in to vaccinate them.”

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Congressional No-Show at ‘Heart-Breaking’ Drone Survivor Hearing


In “historic” briefing, Rehman family gives heartbreaking account of drone killing of 65-year-old grandmother… to five lawmakers

– Lauren McCauley

The Rehman family waits to testify at the Congressional Briefing on drone strikes Tuesday, October 29. (Photo: @akneerudh/ Twitter)Despite being heralded as the first time in history that U.S. lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a U.S. drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.

Nabila Rehman, 9, holds up a picture she drew depicting the US drone strike on her Pakistan village which killed her grandmother. (Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters)Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children—9 year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair—came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack that killed Rafiq’s mother, Momina Bibi, and injured the two children in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October.

According to journalist Anjali Kamat, who was present and tweeting live during the hearing, the only lawmakers to attend the briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), were Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).

Before the handful of reporters and scant lawmakers, however, Rafiq and his children gave dramatic testimony which reportedly caused the translator to break down into tears.

In her testimony, Nabila shared that she was picking okra with her grandmother when the U.S. missile struck and both children described how they used to play outside but are now too afraid.

“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don’t fly when sky is grey.” –Zubair Rehman, 13-year-old drone victim

“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don’t fly when sky is grey,” said Zubair, whose leg was injured by shrapnel during the strike.

“My grandmother was nobody’s enemy,” he added.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq wrote in an open letter to President Barack Obama last week. “The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killed – a 65-year-old grandmother of nine.”

“But the United States and its citizens probably do not know this,” Rafiq continued. “No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable.”

He concluded, “Quite simply, nobody seems to care.”

You can watch a recording of the briefing below and here:

The purpose of the briefing, Grayson told the Guardian, is “simply to get people to start to think through the implications of killing hundreds of people ordered by the president, or worse, unelected and unidentifiable bureaucrats within the Department of Defense without any declaration of war.”

The family was joined by their legal representative Jennifer Gibson of the UK human rights organization Reprieve. Their Islamabad-based lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, was also supposed to be present but was denied a visa by the US authorities—”a recurring problem,” according to Reprieve, “since he began representing civilian victims of drone strikes in 2011.”

“The onus is now on President Obama and his Administration to bring this war out of the shadows and to give answers,” said Gibson.

Also present was U.S. filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who first met Rafiq when he traveled to Pakistan to interview the drone strike victims for his documentary Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.  Before the briefing, Greenwald told the Guardian that he hoped the briefing “will begin the process of demanding investigation. Innocent people are being killed.”

The following clip from Unmanned was shown at Tuesday’s hearing:

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Mass rally against NSA surveillance draws thousands, national media


Report from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF)

The following report from the “Stop Watching Us” demonstration in Washington, D.C., against NSA spying is reposted from the website of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

Saturday’s demonstration in Washington, D.C., was amazing!

A big thank you to all the organizers, volunteers and supporters of the PCJF’s Thank You Ed Snowden campaign who helped bring the message into the streets of Washington, D.C., and into the living rooms of people around the country and the world through the coverage in the mass media.

NBC’s national news coverage of the demonstration reached millions of people.

The Today Show also covered the demonstration.

Because of the widespread media coverage and visibility, many thousands of new people came to the website on Saturday and Sunday. They joined the campaign that is designed to show that, while the government is demonizing Mr. Snowden and hopes to send him to prison for the rest of his life, the American people thank him for his courageous action.

We at the Partnership for Civil Justice believe that it is critical for there to be a growing public outcry and mobilization of public opinion to dismantle the surveillance state.

The PCJF has been aggressively litigating in the courts in defense of civil liberties and civil rights, and exposing the government’s illegal domestic spying operations through our government transparency program. This work has produced huge breakthroughs during the past decade.

But we also believe it is critically important to engage the American people in this battle whose outcome will determine the fate of the Constitution and our cherished rights to personal freedom and privacy.

The Thank You Ed Snowden campaign is an essential vehicle for the mobilization of public support for Mr. Snowden and in uncompromising opposition to the surveillance state whose exististence he revealed to the general public.

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Chicago protest stands with Rasmea Odeh


The Palestine solidarity movement will not back down

Photo: Protest Friends of the IDF

On Oct. 24, more than  50 people picketed in front of the Hilton Hotel on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue protesting a benefit for the Israeli military and demanding an end to the persecution of long-time Palestinian organizer Rasmea Yousef Odeh. Odeh is a 66-year-old well-known feminist and Arab community activist who was abducted from her Chicago home by Department of Homeland Security agents on the morning of Oct. 22 on alleged immigration fraud. The indictment of Odeh alleges that she failed to disclose a conviction in an Israeli court. The Palestinian rights activist spent 10 years in jail for the alleged “crimes” of membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and participating in the group’s military activities.

Unjustly jailed in an Israeli prison system that enforces apartheid rule in her homeland, Odeh was a political prisoner and torture victim. Contrary to the dominant mainstream narrative, the source of criminality in Palestine is not Palestinian activists, but the entire racist Israeli regime that is systematically robbing the Palestinian people of their land.

The arrest of Odeh is part of an ongoing offensive against Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity activists in the United States. In the past couple of years, solidarity activists have had their homes raided by the government. They have been threatened with the strong-arm tactic of a grand jury investigation. Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims have faced an escalation of attacks on campuses and in society.

The United States funds and props up the occupation of Palestine in order to further its aims of domination in the Middle East. The recent surge of support for the cause of Palestinian freedom amongst young people in Europe and in the United States has been a cause for great concern in the halls of power. The attacks against activists are meant to scare people away from support for Palestinian justice.

 The scare tactics must be defeated. Defense of Palestine is not a crime. In order to continue making advances in solidarity with Palestine and the Middle East, the U.S. anti-war movement must stand united in support of targeted activists.

Drop all charges against Rasmea Yousef Odeh now!

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The blockade against Cuba and providence


End the blockade now!

Ricardo Alarcón

The following article, published in the Chilean magazine Punto Final on Oct. 25, 2013, was written by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, Ph.D. He is a former President of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, the national legislative body of Cuba.

In his message to the nation on Sept. 10, President Obama emphasized the United States’ exceptionality.

“What makes America different […] what makes us exceptional,” according to him, is that his country acts “with humility, but with resolve” in the face of violations anywhere. Unhesitatingly, he affirmed that “for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements — it has meant enforcing them.”

A short while later, he reiterated that idea before the General Assembly of the United Nations, at the opening of its 2013 session.

It is a formula that has been stated before by his predecessors in the White House and also by most of the politicians in his country. When using that rhetoric, Obama certainly does not display exceptionality. It is more of the same.

The idea that the powerful nation is different from all others, that it supposedly embodies superior values and that it is destined by the Supreme Being to fulfill a divine mission is rooted in the minds of the WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) elite.

Other sectors usually believe the same because, ever since [Antonio] Gramsci [founder of the Italian Communist Party], we know that in every society the dominant culture is the culture of the dominant classes.

It’s quite an old idea. It was mocked, more than a century ago, by Otto von Bismark: “God has a special providence for fools, drunks and the United States of America.”

But it is also a very dangerous belief. So much so, that those who provoked World War II and its horrors believed blindly in their superiority and exceptionality and were confronted precisely by the United Nations Organization.

It is odd that Obama brought that speech back to the U.N. There, he will be able to prove whether “ensuring that international agreements are enforced” is something he said seriously or was only an expression of cheap demagoguery.

On Oct. 29, the World Assembly will reject once more – as it did 22 times before – the economic, commercial and financial blockade that Washington imposes on Cuba. Like every other previous year, the United States will be isolated, barely accompanied by Israel, its faithful ally, and one or two American satellites in the Pacific who will give him their vote, even though none of them practice the blockade.

Since 1992, year after year, the General Assembly of the U.N. has approved, by a wide majority, resolutions condemning the blockade. Obviously, they are “international agreements,” but instead of “ensuring that they’re enforced,” Washington has ignored them. Worse yet, it not only persists in a universally condemned policy but also intensifies it.

Washington tries to impose it upon others, forcing companies and people who are outside U.S. jurisdiction to obey it or punishing them, violating other nations’ sovereignty and causing huge harm and much suffering to the Cuban people.

It is the most rigorous and prolonged genocide in history, lasting more than half a century. Under Obama’s mandate it has been reinforced, because the current president persecutes Cuba’s transactions with other countries and foreign banks with more zeal than George W. Bush.

Every year, Cuba reports on other actions of that type carried out by Washington since the previous session of the Assembly. They involve voided contracts, interrupted operations, supplies suddenly canceled by third-country companies once they’ve been acquired by U.S. corporations.

In many cases, they involve longtime partners from whom Cuba purchased equipment, parts of products that were indispensable for hospital services or the medical treatment of some diseases or ills.

The Cuban children who are brought to our Children’s Cardio-centers are forced to learn at an early age the cruelty of the blockade and the insensitivity of the bureaucrats that enforce it. Those children and their mothers know better than anyone else the painful reality of genocide.

And they also know, perfectly, what the words of the American president are worth.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on The blockade against Cuba and providence

Brian Becker discusses criminal U.S. drone strikes


Daughter of elderly victim of drone strike testifies at Congressional hearing

Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, discusses the horrors of U.S. drone warfare on Pakistan. The interview was conducted jsut prior to a Congressional hearing on the issue that featured testimony from a nine-year-old Pakistani girl whose grandmother was murdered in a drone strike.

Posted in USAComments Off on Brian Becker discusses criminal U.S. drone strikes

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